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RCAF front and centre at Abbotsford

Aug. 9, 2013, Abbotsford, B.C. - As the Abbotsford International Air Show prepares to launch its 51st edition today, there is much more going on in the world of aviation at Abbotsford than screaming jets and graceful aerobatic performers.


August 9, 2013
By Paul Dixon

Aug. 9, 2013, Abbotsford, B.C. – As the Abbotsford International Air
Show prepares to launch its 51st edition today, there is much more going
on in the world of aviation at Abbotsford than screaming jets and
graceful aerobatic performers.

For the fourth year in a row the air show is being preceded by a two-day Aerospace, Defense and Security Expo. The event is co-hosted by the Western Economic Diversification Canada, Cascade Aerospace and Abbotsford International Airport. The event brings together business leaders from local, national and multi-national under the same roof with the key players from the federal government and the three branches of the Canadian military to provide networking opportunities in a one-stop shopping environment.

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All photos by Paul Dixon.  

Apart from the business bluebloods, military brain trust and government mandarins, the Expo features more federal government ministers under one roof anywhere outside of Ottawa, as well as provincial premier Christy Clark and a bevy of provincial ministers. The event is proof positive that the B.C. aerospace sector is well established, with unlimited growth potential as government and industry work together.

The effects of the U.S. federal government’s financial wrangling and the resulting sequestration leaves this year’s air show without many familiar aircraft, as there will be no U.S. military aircraft in attendance. As an example of making lemonade out of lemons, this year’s air show is being billed as a tribute to the RCAF.

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During an interview during media day, Captain Patrick “Flocho” Pollen, the 2013 CF-18 demonstration pilot, was asked about the absence of the U.S. military from air shows this year. He allowed that their absence has been noted, but then took the opportunity to point out that, “the highlight is that Canada has really stepped up and filled the void at all of our (Canadian) air shows. In Abbotsford in particular, Canadians should be proud that their military is on display. It’s an excellent opportunity to be proud and to wave the flag.”

Canadian pride is the theme of this year’s paint scheme on the Demonstration Hornet and the pride is evident in Pollen’s voice as he conducts a walk-around tour of the aircraft. “We have a very talented artist in Jim Beliveau (410 Squadron) and this is his 20th anniversary of painting the demonstration aircraft. He has done every demonstration Hornet and this is one of his best. It’s a Canadian-themed display, from the maple leaf you see on the back when I’m upside down or on the top-side pass, all the provincial and territorial flags that surround it, some of the symbols and maple leafs you see on the tail. It has the landscapes that you can recognize as B.C. and Ontario on the opposing tail to the national anthem in both official languages. Lots of little symbols that you can see around the plane, like Terry Fox, Vimy Ridge, a wheat sheaf, a Canadian beaver, just to name a few. It’s all to inspire people to think about what it means to be Canadian.”

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When asked to describe his combat experience over Afghanistan and Libya, Pollen simply said it was “intense” and went on to say “it’s part of the job and we realize that at some point we can be called to duty at some point . . . I think in the last ten years Canadians have become very proud of their armed forces and that’s something we’re starting to cherish. We want to build on that relationship.”